If you haven’t been watching, the St. Brown brothers’ podcast for The 33rd Team has been excellent so far. Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has an obviously natural competitive chemistry with his brother Equanimeous, who plays for the Chicago Bears. As a cherry on top, the last two guests of their podcast have been Lions teammates of Amon-Ra. Last week, they talked to Jamaal Williams about his ridiculous fines. This week, it was fellow receiver DJ Chark.
One of the most interesting topics was Chark talking about the Lions' coaching staff. In just five NFL seasons, Chark has already gone through three different head coaches, and he’s never had the same offensive coordinator for two straight seasons. He’s also coming off a season in which he publicly criticized former Jaguars coach Urban Meyer for his ineffective leadership style.
So it should come as little surprise that the Lions coaching staff was a breath of fresh air for Chark.
“One thing I can say about the coaches in Detroit, they really—they know your kid’s names and they’re really into like who you are as a person,” Chark said. “Whereas that’s not always the case. A lot of different personalities that mesh well.”
And while the Lions’ culture of caring has been long documented since coach Dan Campbell stepped in the building, Chark also pointed to the competitive nature of this staff setting a high standard for the players.
“It’s very, very high expectations, too, throughout the building,” Chark said. “The expectation on receivers—being in Coach (Ben) Johnson’s offense, you’ve got to really be in your playbook every week, because it’s very detailed. There’s no excuses for messing up. So that accountability, I haven’t had that probably since college. Just that holding you to a standard.”
Conversation then turned specifically toward offensive coordinator Ben Johnson—who will return for the 2023 season after getting head coach interest. Chark—along with Amon-Ra—praised Johnson’s ability to put players in the best position to succeed and spread the ball around to make sure one person isn’t shouldering the load.
“The coaches, they allowed us to do what we do best. They try to put us in positions to do what you do,” Chark said, later adding:
“Because you get in offenses where they kind of force one person to do it all. Like, ‘I’m going to force you to do all the crossing routes and the quick routes, and I’m going to make you run the go-balls.’ Sometimes you get a player that can do all those things like (Justin Jefferson) in Minnesota. He can do all the things, but it catches a defense off guard when all these people are good at different things, so we’re going to use it all.”
Chark is set to become a free agent and has publicly said several times that he has an interest in coming back. The St. Brown brothers asked more about his mindset going into free agency this year, and the Lions receiver seemed at peace for whatever happens.
“Going into this year, I’m trying not to even worry about how it’s going to happen,” Chark said. “I feel like I’m going to be where I’m supposed to be. If that’s Detroit, that’d be great, because I got some real good friendships and I like it there. It’s really good, but it’s a business. You never know.”